5 Tips to Keep Patients Loyal to Your Pharmacy

Once a pharmacy has attracted a solid base of patients, the next step is keeping them coming.

Once a pharmacy has attracted a solid base of patients, the next step is keeping them coming.

Liz Tiefenthaler, president of Pharm Fresh Media—a company that offers marketing tips to independent pharmacies— told Pharmacy Times about some ways pharmacies can maintain a loyal community of patients.

She noted that the majority of the time, patients are on autopilot, so their habits may lead them to the same pharmacy every time. However, other patients may have medications filled at multiple pharmacies, and some of them may be looking for a home base.

Here are 5 tips to keep patients loyal to your pharmacy:

1.Let patients know what you do, and tell your story.

One mistake some community pharmacists make is focusing on what products they have in their store instead of what they do in their store and why they do it.

Tiefenthaler advises pharmacists to tell their story and develop a personal relationship with patients. Pharmacists should tell patients why they wanted to become a pharmacist in the first place.

“‘It’s because I care about you. It’s because I care about your family.’ That’s the story that we need to be telling,” Tiefenthaler said.

2. Implement an adherence program.

Managing patients’ medication adherence is a good way to keep them coming back.

Once some pharmacies started offering adherence programs, they noticed that some patients had their medications filled at 3 or 4 different pharmacies, Tiefenthaler said.

Patients may not want their medications at several locations, but they do not think to ask their prescribers to send their prescriptions all to one pharmacy.

“We need to ask people for their business, and we need to find ways to keep them loyal,” Tiefenthaler said.

Offering a Med Sync or adherence program can help patients get better control over their medications. Plus, pharmacists can establish a personal relationship with patients by speaking with them about whether or not they are adhering to their medication regimens.

Tiefenthaler suggested that pharmacies can also promote patient loyalty by making calls to patients taking antibiotics to see if they are getting better and reaching out to patients on multiple medications to see if they are experiencing adverse effects.

3. Investigate your pharmacy’s challenges.

Tiefenthaler told an anecdote about a woman who owned 3 pharmacies—2 of which were doing well, but the third was lagging. She could not figure out why the third pharmacy was tanking, especially because she used the same marketing materials and was buying the same products.

So, she hired 5 secret shoppers and 5 secret telephone callers to investigate why the third pharmacy was not performing well.

“All 10 came back to her and said that is a dud staff,” Tiefenthaler said.

The woman realized she had not done a good enough job training her staff, and she learned that she had not put the right people in the right place.

4. Know your market.

Tiefenthaler said pharmacies need to figure out what marketing techniques will work for their demographics.

To attract the younger generation, pharmacies should be making a concerted effort on social media.

While some community pharmacies might be ignoring millennials because they are less likely to be on multiple medications, Tiefenthaler maintained that the younger generation is focused on health and wellness, so the vitamins and supplements realm may draw them in.

The older generation is on social media, too, but Tiefenthaler posited that they may not respond as well to social media posts.

Instead, baby boomers may be more attracted to a personal invitation in the mail. Tiefenthaler gave the example of her 60-year-old husband who loves transactions and interactions with people who know him. While he might not respond to an ad or social media post, he would be interested in a mailer addressed to him.

She also stressed that pharmacists’ marketing materials should be simple and easy to understand.

“We don’t need to tell patients how to make the watch. We just need to tell them what time it is,” Tiefenthaler said.

5. Find your niche.

Tiefenthaler is all about niche marketing for pharmacists.

“If a store is simply filling prescriptions and doing what they did 5 years ago, they are going to be out of business,” she said.

In a market with a lot of competition and low reimbursements, independent pharmacies need to stick out.

“Where a store can make a difference is in their niche marketing,” she said.

In addition to adherence programs, Tiefenthaler suggested that pharmacies could offer multiple-dose packaging or medication disposal programs if they can.

One pharmacy in Rhode Island got involved in environmentally friendly and socially responsible medication disposal and saw great success, she noted.

“Just simply filling prescriptions is not going to work,” she said. “It’s kind of like being a dentist who only drills and bills. They don’t last very long anymore.”